Hall of Fame guard Steve Nash will be the next coach of the Brooklyn Nets, the team announced in a statement. Nash will get a four-year contract from Brooklyn while Jacque Vaughn, the interim coach who led the Nets through the Orlando bubble, will stay on as Nash's top assistant, and will be the highest-paid assistant in the NBA, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
"I am honored to have this opportunity with such a first-class organization and would like to thank Sean, Joe and his wife, Clara for having faith in my ability to lead this team forward," Nash said. "Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right, and I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn. I am as excited about the prospects of the team on the court as I am about moving to Brooklyn with my family and becoming impactful members of this community."
Nash has never held a full-time coaching role in the NBA, but the fit in Brooklyn makes sense on several levels. Nash has previously had a residence in New York City, where he spent off seasons during his playing career. He played with Nets general manager Sean Marks on the Phoenix Suns for two seasons, and he worked as a part-time assistant for the Golden State Warriors during Kevin Durant's three seasons there.
Their experience together likely means that Durant himself blessed the hire. While Brooklyn likely considered a number of factors in finding their new coach, the approval of their superstars was almost certainly one of them. Rumors of tension between Durant, Kyrie Irving and former coach Kenny Atkinson swirled after he was fired, and one possible point of friction, the lineup status of DeAndre Jordan, was addressed immediately after Atkinson left. Jordan, who is close to both Irving and Durant, came off of the bench under Atkinson. Vaughn's first act as interim head coach of the Nets was to move him into the starting lineup over the younger Jarrett Allen.
How Nash continues to navigate the minefield of appeasing superstars while still coaching them will be one of the most important storylines of his debut season. The Nets, with Durant and Irving presumably returning healthy and a number of trade assets in tow to seek out a third superstar, will be among the favorites to win the Eastern Conference next season. While Nash is a somewhat unusual hire, there is a notable recent precedent of a first-time coach finding immediate success with a readymade contender. Nash worked for Steve Kerr with the Warriors, who took over in Golden State with no coaching experience and won a championship in his first season.
The Nets went down a somewhat similar path in 2012, albeit with different results, when they hired Jason Kidd fresh off of his retirement as a player to be their head coach. Like Nash, Kidd took over a veteran roster with championship aspirations. Brooklyn is obviously hoping for different results this time around. Clearly, Brooklyn wanted to make a splash with this hire. Now, they've done so.